With the NBA Preseason underway, the NBA season is right around the corner. The season starts on December 22nd and has two games. The Warriors and Nets play first, and the Clippers and Lakers play right after. Every one of these teams is going to look pretty different with new acquisitions and players leaving. Steve Nash will have his NBA coaching debut, and Tyronn Lue will have his debut with the Clippers. It is shaping up to be a great night for basketball.
Golden State Warriors vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Warriors are going to be a team to watch this year as a star shooting guard and lights out shooter Klay Thompson is out with a torn achilles. Stephen Curry will need to return to a superstar level to compensate for not having his fellow splash brother. The player who has the most to prove with Thompson out is Kelly Oubre. He is going to get every chance to be this team's second scorer after they acquired him for virtually nothing from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oubre is coming off of his best season in the NBA, averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.
One of the biggest stories in the game is how the Warriors are going to use the second overall pick, James Wiseman. He could be starting at center, or they could elect to go small with Draymond Green at center and move Eric Paschall into the starting lineup. Even if he isn't starting, James Wiseman should make an immediate impact on this game with his elite ability to protect the rim. For the Warriors to be successful this year, Draymond Green needs to find his shot. The Warriors' offense works best when they have at least four shooters on the floor, and with Wiseman not being the best shooter, Draymond could prove to be a liability.
On the other side, Kevin Durant is going to have his debut in a Brooklyn Nets uniform. He and Kyrie Irving are going to be one of the most unstoppable scoring duos in the league. While many are concerned about how Kevin Durant's achilles is going to hold up, I am not as concerned as he will still be one of the best players in the league. Kevin Durant is an almost seven-foot-tall small forward and a matchup nightmare. If you put a small forward on him, he will shoot right over them. When Durant is guarded by a big, he can quickly get around them. Steve Kerr is a fantastic coach and will have to find a way to defend his former player.
Brooklyn has one of the more underrated supporting casts in this league. General manager Sean Marks has done a great job of retaining everyone who was on the team last year. Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and DeAndre Jordan make up one of the best sets of role players in the league. They also traded for Bruce Brown in the offseason to boost their depth even more. This team is going to be contending for the NBA Finals this year and should be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
For the Warriors to win this game, players not named Stephen Curry need to step up, and they will have to find a way to slow down Kevin Durant. If James Wiseman is not able to adjust to the Nets' veteran bigs, he needs to be taken out immediately for either Marquese Chriss or Kevon Looney.
For the Nets to win this game, the supporting cast will have to help out Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Steve Nash needs to have some offensive sets meant to confuse rookie James Wiseman and not to let him have a big impact on this game.
Final Prediction: Brooklyn 122 Golden State 110
Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Clippers made big headlines last offseason by signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George. These two huge acquisitions did not work out in the playoffs as they blew a 3-1 lead and lost to the Denver Nuggets in seven games. Kawhi and Paul George caused headaches for opposing teams all season with their fantastic defense and offensive abilities to match that defense. Paul George will need to play a lot better than he did in the bubble. However, they will be the two best players once again, and they are looking to run it back with a couple of new faces, including new coach Tyronn Lue.
Montrezl Harrell left for the crosstown rival Los Angeles Lakers, leaving a big hole at backup center. The Clippers filled that spot with veteran Serge Ibaka who won a championship with Kawhi Leonard in Toronto. During their playoff run, it seemed the Clippers were missing backup wings to take some of the load off of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. That void got filled by underrated shooting guard Luke Kennard and veteran wing Nicolas Batum. All three of those acquisitions should play right away and have a big role off the bench.
The Los Angeles Lakers are obviously going to be lead by arguably the best duo in the league in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Those two were the driving force behind the Lakers' championship run last year. It will be interesting to see who the Clippers put on Anthony Davis. Ivica Zubac probably won't be able to hold up very long, and Serge Ibaka will get a lot of minutes. Regardless of who is guarding them, LeBron James and Anthony Davis should be the leading scorers for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers have finally found themselves a starting point guard in Dennis Schroeder. He is a perfect fit as he doesn't have to play on the ball to be effective. As the sixth man for the Thunder last year, he averaged 18.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. The Lakers also signed Wesley Matthews in free agency, who will compete with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for playing time. Matthews will try to make up for the loss of Danny Green. In another shocking turn of events, veteran center Marc Gasol decided not to play in Spain and sign with the Lakers. Gasol, Davis, and Montrezl Harrell will make up one of the best frontcourts in the league, which will be a problem for opposing teams.
For the Clippers to win this game, they have to stop the Lakers' frontcourt and still not forget about LeBron James. Tyronn Lue has to come up with a plan to make up for their lack of size. The Clippers can't let the Lakers dominate them on the boards, and if they do, the game could get out of hand.
For the Lakers to win this game, they have to take advantage of their size and try to get the Clippers sleeping on defense trying to pack the paint. LeBron James and Anthony Davis need to make sure they are well-rested from last season and not show any signs of rust from not playing.
Final Prediction: Lakers 107 Clippers 99
Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know in the comments!